Blueberry and thyme muffins

image1(2)What is it about muffins? I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe their taste and texture, it being quite similar yet oh-still-so different from a fairy cake. The flour used, even when a high white plain, goes a nutty, wholemeal-ish taste and the density of the sponge is so different, almost wet. It’s the precise ratios of ingredients, the use of both baking powder and extra bicarbonate that make these subtle changes.

These muffins are not quite as sickly sweet as those you might pick up with your cup o’ mocha-chocka-chai-latte-grande. I’ve purposely reduced the sugar, replacing much of it with honey too, so it is a more acceptable level of sweet while still keeping enough sugar back to create the baked-on crunch topping. I’ve also introduced some thyme leaves to give the cakes a little twist and to keep their taste fresh, and these use yogurt not the usual cream, extra milk or extra butter.

Notes

These make 12 muffins, but do use a deep bun tin if you have one rather than a traditional shallow fairy cake/bun tin.

I created my own muffin cases, by cutting out 15cm X 15cm squares of baking paper. Take a glass or beaker with a bottom which fits into the base of one of the bun tins. Squash a square of baking paper into a bun tin with the glass, turn the glass and paper over and then smooth the baking paper square firmly down the sides of the glass. This will create a perfectly usable case. I’ll try to create a video of how to do this and include it here soon.

Equipment

  • Deep bun tins (this makes twelve so you need at least this amount of cavities)
  • Paper cases – either bought or create your own (see above)
  • Large bowl and smaller heatproof bowl
  • Spatula and spoon

Ingredients

  • Plain flour – 300g
  • Bicarbonate of soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Soft brown sugar – 80g (please do use soft brown or Demerara – the muffins really are very different if you use white caster or granulated)
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Unsalted butter – 105g – this butter should be quite soft but not melted
  • Eggs, large – 2
  • Plain yogurt – 110g
  • Blueberries, fresh – 150g
  • Freshly picked thyme leaves – about 2 heaped teaspoons
  • Extra sugar (Demerara, granulated or pearl sugar) for a crust – about 2 tablespoons

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 190°C fan, 210°C conventional
  2. Prepare the bun tins by filling with the paper cases, you don’t need to grease them or use release spray
  3. Pick your fresh thyme – and strip off the leaves, discarding the stalks
  4. Put all of the dry ingredients (flour, bicarb, baking powder, sugar and salt) in the large bowl, sifting them together with your fingers or giving them a light stir
  5. Make sure your butter is really soft, but not melted
  6. Give the two eggs a light whisk in a separate bowl
  7. Mix in the butter, yogurt, honey and eggs into the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed
  8. Now gently mix in the blueberries and thyme
  9. Divide the mix equally between the 12 cases
  10. Sprinkle over the extra pearl sugar (or other sugar that you’re using)
  11. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  12. Check them after about 12 minutes and turn the trays round if they’re already getting brown on one side
  13. Leave to cool and then enjoy 🙂

 

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8 comments

  1. Soft but unmelted butter? Intrigue indeed! Looking at the photo these appear to be what I imagine a muffin to be (NOT just a bigger cake!). Wondering whether the presumptive lumps of butter throughout are the secret I’ve been futilely searching for. (Quite literally: all google searches throw up cakeyNOTmuffins!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Claire, thanks so much for your comment. No, there are no lumps of butter – if the butter is soft enough it can be mixed in thoroughly. Melted butter doesn’t work as well as softened in this mix: using melted butter would mean the muffin would be very different because of the way it would absorb the flour (given this is just a simple mixing wet into dry ingredients method). xx

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      • I think that difference is sort of what I meant: the butter not being melted might mix but it won’t emulsify surely? Or be homogenous? So that allows then for ‘pockets’ of butter nubs a little akin to how biscuits in us baking are flaky? Plus, yes the solid state and gluten development in flour…etc. I did mean very small flecks. Regardless, as I said this looks to be promising for my muffin quest, not negative!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Claire, thanks again… err you’re getting into very scientific territory here, and I can only touch on this from what I’ve learnt. it’s confusing because butter is in itself already an emulsification (fats suspended in milk), it’s not going to be homogenous because the qualities of fat aren’t comparable to the other ingredients. I think I know what you mean though, the butter isn’t rubbed in here – that’s not needed, however as you say it does leave small flecks of butter giving a slightly similar result. The softening of the butter beforehand does mean the butter can be mixed in more easily and will blend better, reducing the size of the pockets of fat encased by the dry ingredients, so when heated in the oven they melt and blend readily with everything else at an even rate. If you give these a go, I’d be interested to see what you think. I’d steer clear of muffin recipes that say cream the butter and sugar together, as they tend to produce ‘cakey’ muffins, which sounds like what you’re trying to avoid. Sorry I can’t explain further – although I try and read up on kitchen chemistry, I do have a limit to my knowledge as it’s only a hobby interest for me. Best wishes xx

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      • Me too! But thank you, and I will try them eventually. When I do so I’ll happily add my thoughts. Things just take me a while to get round to.

        Liked by 1 person

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